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Deaf parents of Israeli shooting victim left mute

March 14, 1997

BEIT SHEMESH, Israel (AP) _ The deaf parents of Adi Malka lost their only link to the hearing world when their daughter was killed by a Jordanian soldier during a field trip to Jordan’s ``Island of Peace.″

Adi, gunned down Thursday with six other schoolgirls during a field trip to the Jordan River, was the only one of the four Malka children to have mastered sign language.

``The parents can’t understand it,″ a 13-year-old cousin, Aviram, said of the girl’s death. ``They are having a very difficult time.″

At the Fierst School in the central Israeli town of Beit Shemesh, students sobbed at their desks and hugged each other on benches Friday, looking at photographs of the victims posted on a bulletin board.

``The most important thing is to be together,″ eighth-grade teacher Zohara Menzigi said.

Dozens of memorial candles flickered around a bulletin board where students hung newspaper articles and pictures of the seven victims in the school’s central hallway.

At the school’s entrance, students wrote messages on a huge blackboard: ``We will never forget you. We love you.″

Thirteen-year-old Natalie Azulai’s desk was empty, the wood still etched with her named and that of her boyfriend, Ariel. Natalie’s name was still printed in whiteout on the blackboard in her own girlish handwriting, the way she had left it.

Natalie’s friend, Ziva Elimelech, said it saddened her to look at the graffiti. ``This leaves me very empty,″ she said.

A teacher and schoolgirl seriously injured in Thursday’s shooting were in stable condition at a Jerusalem hospital and twins Keren and Hila Ivri were in good condition at the Poriah Hospital in northern Israel.

During morning worship at the religious public school, the 1,000 students read from the Book of Psalms and said a prayer for the quick recovery of the wounded.

Psychologists and social workers held counseling sessions in each classroom, encouraging the girls who witnessed the attack to talk about their experience.

``This was very traumatic,″ said chief psychologist Miki Greenstein. ``Time heals the wounds ... but some of the images won’t disappear.″

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